If you’re like most families anticipating and preparing for the end of the traditional school year, then you’re probably planning a spring break trip or a summer vacation. Although there are many places where you can bring the family pet, there are just as many vacation destinations that either aren’t appropriate for pets or just don’t allow animals.
So, what do you do when you can’t take Fluffy or Fido with you? Well, you have a few options:
- Ask Grandma to come over to feed Fluffy while you’re gone and hope she remembers.
- Ask the kid down the street to come over and feed Fido… and hope he doesn’t sabotage your house while you’re away.
- Hire a professional pet sitter.
Okay, so I’m kidding. Kind of. Grandma isn’t forgetful and the kid down the street is reliable. Still, I have a point. If you’re anything like me, your instinct really is to go with someone you know, and trust, when it comes to giving someone access to your home.
Seriously, you should think again and consider a professional pet sitter. Use the friend or family member as a backup and as a contact person to give to the pet sitter you hire. You’ll feel better, especially if your pet has any special needs, and trust me, so will the friend, neighbor, or family member who didn’t get roped into the responsibility while you’re away.
Pet sitting is no longer just done by the teen down the street, there’s even a National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). The well-being of your pet while you’re away is serious business, and professional pet sitters take it as such. Still, there are some companies that won’t provide the best service for what you’re looking for. It’s important to lay out everything that you expect, and to hear everything that the service offers. If it’s not the exact fit that you’re looking for, keep looking.
Here are a few criteria to consider and questions to ask before hiring a pet sitting service, courtesy of Berkely East Bay Humane Society.
What to Ask a Potential Pet Sitter
- Can you provide proof of being bonded?
- Can you provide proof of commercial liability insurance?
- What sort of training have you completed?
- Are you associated with any veterinarians who provide emergency services?
- Do you have any back-up plans if you become ill or have car trouble?
- What other services do you (or your company) provide (in-home grooming, dog walking, etc.)?
- Can you provide a written estimate or contract describing services and fees?
- How will you check to make sure I have arrived home safely?
- Can you provide provide referrals from other clients? Can you provide contact information of past clients for me to call?
Know what to expect from a pet sitter.
The most important thing is that they will take good care of your loved one. Duties of a pet sitter usually include feeding the pet, walking it and providing medical care for it; but most importantly, the pet sitter should be a companion while you’re away. Just as we are attached to our pets, our pets are attached to us.
Prepare your pet sitter for success.
As you prepare your home for a pet sitter, be sure that you have provided your contact information and left your contact information and basic itinerary written down and located in a conspicuous place. Also, be sure that you know how to contact the sitter. Know their emergency plans and their expected schedule. It’s also best to alert your veterinarian that you are going on vacation, leaving your pet in the hands of a sitter, and that they might contact them with any issues that may arise.
Here are some other ways that the NAPPS suggests to get your home ready:
- Leave a piece of clothing that you’ve recently worn near where your pet sleeps (as a reminder of you.)
- Display the name and phone number of your vet in a prominent place. Show it to the pet sitter before leaving.
- Place out appropriate food and water bowls for your pet’s use. Clean them beforehand.
- Put everything needed for your pet’s care in a specific area. This will keep the sitter from having to search through your home.
- Select a neighbor to keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. Let him or her know that a pet sitter will be coming to your home while you’re away, and provide him or her with a key in case of emergency.
- Give the neighbor the pet sitter’s name and phone number.
On that note, happy hunting!
It’s tough to leave your pets as you head off for vacation, but as long as you’ve been diligent in your search for a good, trustworthy pet sitter you can rest assured that your furry friends are in good hands and your non-furry friends and family will love you for it.
A great place to begin your search is by asking your friends if they’ve had any pet sitters before. From there, there’s no place like the Web to find what you want. Just be sure to ask questions and don’t skimp out. Choose quality over quantity in this case.
Your pet is worth it!